Alexander: No one could match Lindy’s loyalty to UCR
They retired his number, even though he never wore one.
They put him in the school’s athletic hall of fame in September, 2011, years after they should have.
But there is one thing UC Riverside’s administrators and athletic officials cannot do. They cannot possibly replicate the devotion that Franklin Lindeburg showed to their school, from the day he first walked on campus in 1954 to Nov. 9, the day he passed from this earth.
Lindeburg would have turned 99 on Thanksgiving Day. He had been in failing health for some time, but in recent years he would still be seen occasionally courtside at the Rec Center, watching the Highlanders play.
After all, he was there first, long before anyone else. He was quite possibly the last of UCR’s pioneers.
The guy people in the athletic department knew simply as “Lindy” was the first athletics/physical education employee hired in January, 1954, a month before UCR opened with five buildings and 126 students.
(Thus, the number that the school retired a few years back: 54.)
“When I came down in the fall when I was hired, I was looking around at the gymnasium, which was not yet completed,” he recalled in 1998 when he was interviewed by Jan Erickson, an assistant to then-chancellor Ray Orbach, for an oral history of the university.
“The wind was blowing about forty miles per hour. I looked out on the lower field where we teach our golf classes and the tumbleweeds were going faster down the field than you could run. I said to myself, ‘What am I getting into?’
“It was an amazing situation, but everything turned out OK.”
Lindeburg was the school’s first head basketball coach and held the position for 12 years, and his best season was his last: 16-8 in 1965-66, at a university that was only then beginning to grow […]